What we feed our children plays an important role in their growth and development.
Nutrition directly affects not only their physical health, but influences behavior, how they learn in school and form relationships with others. More often than not, kids today have working parents, leaving very little time for ample meal planning and grocery shopping – leading to an increase in childhood obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
Here’s a list of 8 notorious “worst offenders” to avoid:
1. Kids’ Breakfast Cereal
Sure, that box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Captain Crunch might boast a boatload of vitamins and minerals on the label, but when you consider the amount of sugar and processed ingredients per serving, the miniscule amount of nutritional value they offer doesn’t count for much.
Nutritionists recommend that when you shop for a suitable cereal for your breakfast table, go for brands that contain at least 3-grams of fiber per serving and less than 10 grams of sugar. The best morning cereal that you can get junior hooked on is whole grain oatmeal, it’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and you can sprinkle on some berries and mix it with yogurt, or a dab of honey or real maple syrup.
2. Luncheon Meats
Smoked ham, and even roast beef are a kids’ lunchbox staple. However, according to food experts, if your child eats a sliced meat sandwich every day, you may be packing them a very dangerous and toxic food.
Take a good look at the label, does junior’s favorite lunch meat contain nitrates, a preservative used in food processing that drastically increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.
3. Juice Boxes
You know that juice boxes are bad news ever since you handed your 4 year old a fruit punch in the car for the first time. Did you ever get those stains out of your seat upholstery? However, juice boxes really don’t pack any nutritional value say food experts, so stop feeling so bad.
Not only are they packed with sugar, most commercial juices lack fiber and vitamins because they’re void of any real juice. Instead, blend up a batch of fruit smoothies with whole fruits, yogurt, and ice as a nutritious after school snack.
Packing a plastic baggie of crackers has saved my child from a meltdown time and time again. However, when I noticed the gratifying crunch I was feeding my child was made from processed, white flour, preservatives, unhealthy oils, I quickly swapped them for a brand make with fibrous whole grains.
Not only do they satisfy hunger for longer, they don’t leave my children tired and cranky. It’s really a win/win for everyone involved.
5. French Fries
I know that most parents are aware that feeding their kids French Fries at every meal is asking for weight gain and the development of a very unhealthy habit. However, moderation is the key here.
If you’re going to feed your little one fries, keep them to a few meals per week and make them a side, not the starring food feature. Nutritionists warn that French fries offer very little in the way of nutritional value—they’re super high in fat and sodium. Unfortunately, the same goes for potato chips, cheesy snacks, and any fried and puffed snack food. Instead, opt for baked chips or make your kids baked potato wedges instead.
6. Candies And Other Sweet Snacks
Again, just like the sugary high and “crash” after drinking sugary drinks, the same happens when a child only eats a snack loaded with sugar. Many of these also are cleverly packaged as “made with real fruit” – but the fruit content may be minimal and highly processed.
If you are in the habit of ordering pizza several times a week after a stressful day, be aware that the pizza that comes to your door is a far cry from the kind you make and bake in your oven at home.
So put down the phone. You can quickly throw together a healthier homemade pie with store bought, whole wheat crust, natural, low-fat cheese, shredded chicken, and tons of veggies.
One 12-oz can of soda has an astonishing 10 teaspoons of sugar. These drinks are also full of additives and often caffeine. The sugar rush becomes addictive. After the sugar rush, soda causes children to “crash”, affecting their mood and sleep cycle as well. Try to pack fresh juice or milk for your child instead.